From a Universal Collector – The Olbricht Collection


The Olbricht Collection is one of the largest and most important collections in Europe. After the closure of the "me Collectors Room", VAN HAM started the sale of the collection of Prof. Dr Thomas Olbricht already in 2020 with a unique White Glove Sale. Since then, numerous selected and museum-quality works from this incomparable collector's universe, which included not only all media of Contemporary Art but also magnificent works of Classical Modernism as well as numerous Wunderkammer objects, have come under the hammer in seven auctions at VAN HAM. The Olbricht Collection's auctions produced outstanding results for renowned artists, set several international auction records, and helped numerous young positions make successful auction debuts.


AUCTIONFrom a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection - Being Human | 9 June 2022

AuCtion From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection - SIZE MATTERS | 23 June 2021

AuCtion From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection - Wunderkammer | 23 June 2021

Auction ONLINE ONLY | From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection Part V  | 16-24 June 2021

Auction ONLINE ONLY | From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection Part III | 16-29 Oct. 2020

Auction From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection - Wunderkammer | 26 September 2020

Auction From a Universal Collector - The Olbricht Collection - Contemporary | 26 September 2020

"Being Human"

Interview with Prof. Thomas Olbricht

From a Universal Collector – The Olbricht Collection
Auction "Being Human" on 9 June 2022

Over 20 international auction records, numerous successful auction debuts by young artists, and more than 40 lots whose lower estimate was more than doubled marked the last live auction of the first six-month period at Van Ham. Under the title “From a Universal Collector – The Olbricht Collection | Being Human”, about 300 works of contemporary art from the well-known collection of Prof. Thomas Olbricht were called up and achieved an impressive overall result of €2.5 million. Highlights were the works by Cindy Sherman, Os Gemeos and Jia Wei. The sales ratio by unit was about 80 per cent, while the ratio by value from the lower estimate to the final result was approx. 145 per cent. Numerous public institutions as well as international private museums submitted winning bids, such as the Collett Prague/Munich Collection, which is based in Prague.

Cindy Sherman assumes a prominent place in the Olbricht Collection – Thomas Olbricht collected her works for years, compiling a comprehensive overview covering nearly all periods of her artistic output. Her importance was also revealed by the sale of her works at the auction. Especially her photograph Untitled #353 is characteristic of her oeuvre. Its price was raised to €53,000 by a collector in Austria.

The identical twin brothers Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who were born in São Paolo in 1974, use the nom de plume Os Gêmeos. The large-scale work The Chicken of the Golden Egg from 2008 is a typical example of their interwoven dream worlds. The international bidding war was won by a U.S. buyer when he agreed to pay the total of €112,000.

The two works by Jia Wei attracted great interest – their prices sky-rocketed. The painting To calm climbed from its estimate of €18,000 to the staggering final result of €119,000 – the German auction record for this artist! At the same time, the price for the work Illuminate the Unlimited Darkness was raised from €20,000 to a total of €99,000. Both works are now going to a collector in Hong Kong.

The buying spree of the private collection Collett Prague/Munich resulted in several auction records in international bidding wars: the painting Hunting by Chinese artist Wei Dong, e.g., was sold for the international auction record amount of €27,000. Including the commission, the Prague-based private collection is paying a total of €36,000. For the international auction record sum of €32,000, David Zink Yi’s large floor sculpture of a giant squid made of ceramic is moving to the Collett Prague/Munich collection. Van Ham achieved the German record price for one of Kiki Smith’s installations, the work Bloodline from 1994. The 97 glass bodies are going to Prague for a total of €57,000.

Another coveted installation was Gregor Schneider’s Hannelore Reuen, which is now becoming part of a private collection in Berlin for €32,000. Johannes Kahr’s masterful paintings are sensual but never merely pleasing. One example of this is the painting of the woman in the shower from 2005, which a telephone bidder in Southern Germany acquired for €44,000. Van Ham set an international auction record for Katharina Wulff. Her large-scale canvas Die Verbindung (The Connection) was sold for €46,000.


In the VAN HAM Kunst_Halle with Prof. Thomas Olbricht

From a Universal Collector – The Olbricht Collection
Auction SIZE MATTERS on 23 June 2021

At the last sale of the Spring season, SIZE MATTERS, Van Ham achieved more than 20 international auction records with works of impressive size from the Olbricht Collection. Never before did an auction house dare offer so many large-scale works and sell them so successfully. A helpful factor was certainly that Van Ham has assumed the role of pioneer in digitalisation and held the auction simultaneously on five international auction platforms – in addition to its own platform – while sometimes only five people were present in the auction hall. With a total result of about 3.4 million euros, the overall estimate was exceeded by over 50 per cent.

The central work was by Katharina Grosse, who stunned bidders with an explosion of colours on 16 square metres. A private collector acquired the gigantic work for the princely sum of 387,000 euros.

In her work Free Running Rhythms and Patterns Version II, sculptor and installation artist Andrea Zittel – a native of California – depicted her ruminations on a series of experiments which she designed and called ‘A–Z Time Trials’. Van Ham established a new world record for this important, expansive cycle by selling it to an online bidder from Switzerland for 141,900 euros. With a result of 77,400 euros, Van Ham achieved an international auction record for Joseph Marioni, whose monochrome-looking Yellow Painting from 1996 prompts viewers to take a closer look. The work is now going to a private collection in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Right after the successful sale of Jonas Burgert’s Self-hunter from 2005 for 116,100 euros, the international auction record fell for a sculpture by the hip Berlin artist when his larger-than-life work Stirnstand was sold for 90,300 euros.

Marc Quinn’s profound work Mirage is based on the photo of an inmate of the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, which shocked the international public at large in 2004. The larger-than-life bronze achieved a result of 90,300 euros.

The Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso has made a firm place for himself in the international art scene with his large-scale paintings, sculptures and installations. His installation Feast Table Undeclared Perceptions from 2012 also has impressive dimensions. With a result of 58,050 euros it has now achieved a new international auction record for the artist.

A new world record was also set for the gigantic work Lullaby by Satoko Nachi, whose staggering size of 4 x 8 metres makes it probably the largest work ever sold at auction in Germany. The work was acquired by a hall bidder for 20,640 euros.

Van Ham was able to achieve new world records for numerous international artists, including Thom Puckey, Mathew Weir, Jürgen Teller, Peter Feiler, Ratheesh T., John Isaacs, Moritz Schleime, Michael Kirkham, Ena Swansea, Haruku Maeda, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Robert Kusmirowski, Martina Steckholzer, Reed Anderson and Jan Albers, among others

»The Olbricht Collection is one of Germany’s most important Private Collections«

Monopol, 6 August 2020

„Van Ham won the bid for the Olbricht Collection not least because the house has experience in auctioning large collections. With the Achenbach stock, the company turned over 11.7 million euros in 2015 and 2016. The still ongoing distribution of the SØR Rusche Collection brought in 5.6 million euros. In the end, however, another decisive factor was that the Cologne-based company is not afraid to also offer objects at smaller prices.«

Handelsblatt, 6 August 2020

From a Universal Collector – The Olbricht Collection
Auctions on 26 September 2020 

To crown it all, VAN HAM has completed the series of auctions of Prof. Thomas Olbricht’s world-famous and fascinating collection with a unique WHITE GLOVE SALE. In addition to all media used in contemporary art as well as magnificent works of Classical Modernity, the collection which Olbricht used to present in his private museum, “me Collectors Room” in Berlin, is also fascinating because of its numerous objects from cabinets of curiosities. The undisputed highlight among the paintings: Daniel Richter’s monumental and critical work, The Law, which earned 438,600 euros. What is fascinating about the cabinet of curiosities objects is the diversity of highlights, which properly reflects the spirit of this masterful collection.

Prof. Thomas Olbricht is the great universal collector of our time. With approximately 500 items, the sale offered a journey through the entire world and through time, in which over 1,300 bidders – including 1,000 online bidders (60% of whom were new customers) – from 31 countries participated, making this sale a resounding success. It closed with a total result of nearly five million euros.

In the Contemporary Art segment, The Law by Daniel Richter, one of the most relevant contemporary artists, was the most important work of this sale (lot 368). The painting is one of the early works from Richter’s second phase, during which his subjects became increasingly figurative. The work shocks the viewer only at first glance.

Nothing is the way it seems, as the horse symbolizes the decline of National Socialism. The painting has enriched numerous exhibitions and is now becoming part of a private collection in Germany for 438,000 euros.

An Austrian bidder could not resist the fascination of the neon installation by John M. Armleder (b. 1948), which was worth 193,500 euros to him (lot 323). The size of the work Untitled (Target) is unique in the auction market to date. It confirms Armleder as one of the most influential European concept artists of our day.

George Condo is also living up to his reputation as one of the most successful and interesting American artists. The oil painting Screaming Couple impressed a German buyer with its powerful colours and the exaggerated figures, which are typical of this artist (lot 418, result: 322,500 euros).

Sarah Morris made a name for herself with large-size and grid-like paintings (lot 401). The “city lights” with their visual echoes and reflections also left their mark on the work Universal (Los Angeles), which sold for 96,750 euros.

The painting Untitled (Think) by William N. Copley is going to a private collection in the Rhineland region for 77,400 euros (lot 385). Two worlds collide in the thrilling painting from 1961. The world that is illuminated by the lantern and in which a policeman maintains order with a raised club is juxtaposed by the dark world, by night.

Several works by Cindy Sherman were called up during this sale. The artist always portrays herself in her works embodying different female stereotypes. Her work Untitled Film Still #39 was sold to a bidder in the USA for 129,000 euros.

The fascinating diversity of the highlights from the different areas of the Cabinet of Curiosities shows very clearly the special character of the collection, which altogether nearly tripled its estimates. Olbricht found the inspiration for his cabinet of curiosities in the wonders of nature, the curiosities of art history and the feats of craftsmanship which had already fascinated kings and princes. In the MIRABILIA section, for instance, the undisputed highlight was an egg of an elephant bird (lot 192). The extinct family of these ostrich-like birds lived endemically in Madagascar up until the 17th century. This distinct rarity was worth 33,540 euros to its new, London-based owner.
Prof. Olbricht extended the concept of the cabinet of curiosities in his collection by including works created as late as the 20th century. Design objects such as the mixed banquet chair completed the range of the collection (lot 135).

The surrealistic highlight of the MODERN DESIGN section by the Brazilian Campana brothers, Fernando and Humberto, was worth 23,220 euros to its new owner. In the age of Corona, an autumn day on this sofa is decidedly safer than an afternoon at the zoo.
The ARTIFICIALIA section contained one highlight after the other. The significant vanitas head from a 16th/17th-century rosary, for instance, achieved a result of 21,930 euros (lot 59). The small, finely carved ivory sculpture – half face, half skull – was knocked down to an online bidder from the Netherlands. Another highlight was the sculpture of Saint Vitus, which had already been presented to the public in the “Rockers Island” exhibition at the Folkwang Museum in 2007 (lot 69). It exceeded its estimate many times over, climbing to a price of 33,540 euros thanks to large international participation. Its counterpart by Stephan Balkenhol (Martyr, 2003) achieved a result of 45,150 euros.
Like many exhibits of the collection, two so-called bone ships from the 19th century embody an impressive fusion of art and nature (lot 106). The Napoleonic prisoner ships with 98 cannons were worth 18,060 euros to their new owner. Fascinating, valuable, historic – these were the qualities with which the four memorial rings with portraits of English kings from the 17th/18th century impressed bidders (lot 112). After numerous advance bids had been submitted, they are now embarking on a long journey to the Cayman Islands.

This sale completely fulfilled Olbricht’s wish: the magic of the objects is now to spark the curiosity of others. It does not fade when you pass an object on but stays alive independently of its owners. . . .

Preview Modern and Contemporary Art and Cabinet of Curiosities from 26 September 2020




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